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History of The Townhouse Dublin

Dion Boucicault

Your room is named after a play written by Dion Boucicault (pronounced Boo-seek-O) who lived in this house in the 1830's ('he house was build about 1808). He was a flamboyant character by any standards.
Immensely famous and wealthy (he made £500,000 on one play alone) at the peak of his career. He married three times and died broke! (I'm only reporting the facts!) He was prolific. He wrote more than 150 plays - as well as acting and directing many of them.

In The Townhouse lobby you will see many of the original Playbills and posters for his plays. For example, The Shaughran (an Irish language term for a good natured bowsie who always seems to outwit his detractors and land on his feet) first opened in the famous Wallack's Theatre, in November 1874. You'll see posters (over reception) for productions in London's National Theatre in 1990, and the Sydney Opera House Theatre in 1995. Still enjoying rave reviews after 120 years! There's so much to report about Boucicault that it's difficult to condense into a short pressay.

(Richard Fawkes has written his most comprehensive biography - Quartet Press). Born in 1829, Dionysius Lardner Boucicault was one of the great dramatists of the Victoria era. He also pioneered the role of the theatre director and was responsible for many innovations in stagecraft, making him an influential figure of the theatre in Ireland, England and America. His spectacular quarrels with colleagues, his passion for women and his making and losing fortunes caused scandal during his lifetime and continue to make him fascinating a hundred years after his death.

This house No.47 Lower Gardiner Street was his childhood home (his birth is shrouded in mystery).
Later he ran away to become an actor and was a successful playwright by the time he was twenty-one? Indeed he was a significant influence on Wilde, Shaw, Synge and O'Casey. It was O'Casey that remarked 'Shakespeare's good in bits, but for colour and stir give me Boucicault'. But Boucicault didn't care who he offended and he had enemies enough to do him down.

However, after his bigamous marriage to Louise Thorndyke even his friends decided to ostracize him. And therein lies the reason that he is not better known today. Its as though there was a conspiracy during his later life to ignore his very existence. Jim Connolly, artist and sculptor, remembers him at his flamboyant best. His half size bronze statue that stands by the lift in the lobby captures Boucicault in his finest regalia (he spent thousands on clothes).

Mr. Lafcadio Hearn

Mr. Lafcadio Hearn...or better known to his Japanese friends as Koizumi Yakumo, was born of Irish-Greek parentage in 1850, on the Ionian Island of Lefkas.

In 1851, when Charles Hearn ( an assistant Surgeon in various regiments) was assigned to the West Indies, he sent his wife and infant son, Lafcadio, home to his mother in Dublin, Number 48 Lower Gardiner street. Rosa, Lafcadio's mother did not speak English and was treated very much as an alien by the conservative Hearn family.

In 1853 Charles returned home from the West Indies, but relations between himself and Rosa were strained, in turn leading her to return to her native Greece in 1854, leaving behind her son whom she was never to see again.

Throughout the next 40 years, Lafcadio Hearn's life was to remain as tragic and unstable as his beginning years, moving from Ireland, England, France and America. It was while in America that Lafcadio took the assignment with the newspaper "Harper's" that led to his first glimpse of majestic Fujiyama, Japan, 1890. Subsequently he married a Japanese lady, took a Japanese citizenship and adopted the name "Koizumi Yakumo".

As a journalist and writer he poured out book after book about the land of his adoption. Through his keen intellect, poetic imagination and clear style, he became the great interpreter of things Japanese to the West.
It was in 1904, after, as some would say possibly his best work "Japan, an attempt at Interpretation" that Lafcadio died of a heart attack aged 54.

The renewed interest in Hearn and his works, a hundred years later, is an acknowledgement of his interpretation skills of the inner life of Japan for the west and the west of Japan.

He remains today as a popular literary figure and adopted son of the Japanese people, of whom many are welcome to see the the beginning of a great man at the Townhouse, 48 Lower Gardiner St., Dublin.

2007 Ireland celebrated 50 years of formal diplomatic relationship with that great nation that is Japan